Born in New York City, Ortiz is the daughter of the first Puerto Rican city councilman in Philadelphia and was the first Latino elected to Philadelphia's City Council in 1984. He served for 19 years. A mother who works in Manhattan with autistic children and runs a soup kitchen.
As a child, Ortiz dreamed of becoming a ballerina, and she studied ballet for eight years, until the pain of dancing en pointes forced her to pursue a different artistic discipline.
Switching to singing, Ortiz attended the La Guardia High School of the Performing Arts (of "Fame" fame) to study voice. She then attended the University of Arts in Philadelphia before making her professional stage debut in a regional theater production of "Dangerous Liaisons." Her additional stage credits include portraying Chrissy in a European touring production of "Hair," regional theater productions such as "Dog Lady and the Cuban Swimmer" and in the South Coast Repertory Theater's production of "References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot."
After joining LAByrinth Theatre Company, she appeared off-Broadway in "In Arabia, We'd All Be Kings," directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Almost Famous") and named one of the 10-best plays of 1999 by the magazine Time Out New York.
Ortiz has guest-starred on the series "NYPD Blue" and "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman," and her feature-film credits include "King of L.A." and "Tortilla Heaven."
As of 2007, Ortiz resides in Manhattan, where she enjoys hiking, horseback riding, softball and water sports in her spare time. Her birthday is January 25.